Driving through Co Laois as darkness fell, RTE news offered only dreary stories. Speculation on a general election in 2015 and reports of the IMF being paid off – the item not mentioning whose money had been taken to make the payments. Escapism was necessary. A mobile wifi modem and an old iPhone allow the option of listening to internet stations, any number of which play a constant sequence of music uninterrupted by politicians. A station called “Simply 70s”, or something similar, seemed an appropriate exit from the dullness of a November evening in 2014.
“Eclectic” would not have captured the diversity of what the station played. There was Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water”, Rod Argent’s “Hold your head up” and “Whole lotta love” from CCS, along with “The Hustle” from Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony, and . . . . “Please, Mr Postman” from The Carpenters. Could there be anyone in the entire world who, in their 1970s teenage years, would have bought “Smoke on the water” and “Please, Mr Postman”?
Despite the gulf between the style of Deep Purple and that of The Carpenters, it seemed odd that both were still instantly recognizable. In the case of “Smoke on the water”, it has remained a familiar item in the playlists of classic rock stations, but it was hard to remember hearing “Please, Mr Postman” in the last couple of decades, perhaps it is one of those songs that has a subliminal impact, its playing enters the consciousness without one being aware of hearing it.
Why should “Please, Mr Postman” linger in the memory and still appear on a playlist when countless other songs have disappeared without trace? It is pure pop, the tune is simple and repetitive and the words are hardly literature:
There must be some word today
From my boyfriend so far away
Please Mr. Postman look and see
If there’s a letter a letter for me